FLOGGER OF EXPENSIVE PRINTER INK HP has become the first major vendor to launch ARM-based servers.
HP launched its Redstone server range using low-power processors from both Intel and ARM vendor Calxeda. HP claims Redstone servers are designed for testing and proof-of-concept, presumably the concept that it can produce ARM-based servers.
The Calxeda Energycore processors in HP's Redstone servers are 32-bit processors designed for massively parallel workloads with an 80Gbits/s crossbar between processors. Calxeda claims that when the chip is mated to 4GB of RAM the whole setup consumes just 5W under load and idles at 0.5W.
HP's Redstone servers pack four ARM-processor laden drawers into just 4U of space. The firm claims a total rack capacity of 2,800 processors. HP claims significant improvements in power usage and server density, though customers will want to see how the ARM-based chips handle their particular workloads before throwing out existing x86 kit.
HP announced that it is working with Linux vendors such as Canonical and Red Hat to provide software support for its developmental server range. Worryingly for Microsoft, Linux might steal a march over its Windows Server operating system in the ARM server market.
Last week Canonical released Ubuntu 11.10, specifically pointing to ARM architecture support, with the firm claiming it has been working with Calxeda for years.
Although HP has launched its ARM-based servers, it might take time before large companies decide to tailor their workloads to suit the processors and buy ARM-based servers. A disadvantage at this point is the limit of 32-bit memory addressing, meaning that developers might have to work out how best to split large datasets.
Last week ARM announced its 64-bit ARMv8 architecture for servers, but it'll be a while before chips using that architecture tip up. For the moment HP is having to dip its toes into the server market with an older ARM chip architecture. µ
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